Attorneys for New York real estate magnate Howard Milstein yesterday asked a District federal court to let stand a lawsuit that claims former Washington Redskins part-owner John Kent Cooke and General Manager Charley Casserly sabotaged Milstein's chances of receiving NFL approval to become the team's owner.
The 45-page brief said that the lawsuit should go forward, despite arguments from Cooke and Casserly that Milstein is not entitled to collect damages because he withdrew from the approval process before NFL owners voted on his bid. Cooke also is seeking dismissal on grounds that he is not subject to the court's jurisdiction because he has become a resident of Bermuda, which is part of the British Commonwealth.
Cooke and Casserly also have argued that they are not liable because they were acting in their official capacities: Cooke as a rival bidder on the team and Casserly as a team employee.
"Cooke and Casserly have cobbled together various arguments purporting to avoid the jurisdiction of this court and to give legal sanction to their conduct," according to the brief. "These contentions are wrong."
Attorneys for Cooke and Casserly could not be reached to comment. Attempts to reach Milstein and his attorneys also were unsuccessful.
According to Milstein's filing:
Cooke was still a resident of the District when the suit was filed, so he is subject to its jurisdiction. The suit says "it is clear that [Cooke] has not changed and cannot so easily change his domicile and thereby escape this court's . . . jurisdiction."
Cooke's and Casserly's actions were contrary to their contractual obligations as employees of Jack Kent Cooke Inc. to use their "best efforts" to obtain NFL approval for Milstein.
Milstein's brief also accuses Cooke, who has lived in the District since 1979, of moving to Bermuda to avoid paying $5.7 million in taxes on his $60 million share from the sale of the team.
Cooke has said that he moved his residence to Bermuda for other reasons.
Milstein filed a lawsuit May 17 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that Cooke and Casserly, with the help of others, were instrumental in defeating Milstein's chances to gain NFL approval of his proposed $800 million purchase of the team.
Milstein stepped aside in April after he was told by the NFL that he could not obtain the necessary three-quarters votes of the league owners to win approval to assume ownership of the team.
Milstein's fellow investor in the franchise, Daniel M. Snyder, ended up purchasing the team for approximately the same price.
Yesterday's filing is in response to a request for dismissal made last month by Cooke's and Casserly's attorneys. Since the lawsuit was filed, Casserly has announced he will step down as general manager and become a consultant to the Redskins.